58. Bernardino Campi

Cremona 1522 – 1591 Reggio nell’Emilia

Two Prisoners

This drawing belongs to a group of three sheets (Biblioteca Reale, Turin and The Art Institute, Chicago) representing male figures dressed in the Antique manner standing in niches. Bernadino Campi drew these afflicted figures, constrained by the shallow space they inhabit, in his painstakingly detailed style. Enclosed in this recess, they were at first identified as philosophers but more recently have been considered to be prisoners. The handling of the chiaroscuro – particularly in the Chicago drawing – suggests that these are preparatory studies for monochrome paintings, imitating bas-reliefs. Giulio Bora (1985) put forward the idea that they might be designs for ephemeral decorations, created perhaps on the occasion of Philip the Second’s entry into Cremona in 1549.